Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Don't "Adopt a Parish"

Professor Bainbridge declines Hugh Hewitt's suggestion that people find a hurricane-damaged congregation to help.
Why? Because of the decision recently reached by the judge supervising the Diocese of Spokane's bankruptcy case. ...

In other words, giving money to a specific parish these days for a specific purpose like Katrina relief is no longer safe from the claims of sex abuse litigants. I firmly believe that the Church needs to compensate the victims of priestly sex abuse, but I also don't want money I give to hurricane relief being diverted to other purposes and, in particular, I don't want it to end up in some trial lawyer's contingent fee.

In an update he adds,
There may not be much risk, but I'm disinclined to take any risk on this issue.

Seems to me this risk exists not only in giving to a parish elsewhere but to one's own parish, if one lives in a jurisdiction in which title to all Church property is in the bishop as a "corporation sole," more or less equivalent to him acting as a trustee.

We don't have that situation in Wisconsin; by statute, each parish is a separate corporation. But if the standard is zero risk, there is more than zero chance that a court somewhere someday somehow would find that assets of Catholic Charities are subject to claims of creditors of a diocese. That hardly seems like enough risk to deter giving.

On the other hand, I don't give to the local Catholic Charities because of the 100% risk that it has been contributing to Wisconsin Public Radio.


  1. Anonymous5:41 AM

    Thanks for the tip. Interesting - I listen to WI Public Radio if I need a blood pressure raise first thing in the morning, and for a while there it seemed as if Annie Gaylor (sp?) Nelson, the Freedom From Religion spokeswoman, was a featured guest every 2 weeks or so. Terribly charitable of the Archdiocese to help out with her publicity.


  2. Fits with the Archdiocesan support of Tricky Dick McBrien.

    Consistency, you know...

  3. It all depends what the meaning of "etc." is, as in "I consider all that church money as a sacred trust; it represents the offerings of faithful and I must be accountable to them for how it is all spent. There are hundreds of requests on my desk for funds for worthy causes, for inner city projects, to the elderly, to the handicapped, etc."